Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sisters in Singleness // Kari's Story

   Occasionally I will be sharing the stories of other single women I know to encourage us with the truth that we are not alone in our singleness. Be sure to read Jennifer's Story if you missed it a few months ago. 

Kari's Story

 My name is Kari. I graduated from Cornerstone University in 2014 with a degree in ministry. I work at a local bookstore full-time, dog sit once in a while for friends, and serve in my church in the children's ministry and as a leader in the youth group.

Kari, can you share your story?
 I am 25 years old and I have been single all my life. I've never had a boyfriend, and the one date that I had was later in college. To some people that is absolutely shocking. In today's day and age, it's completely normal to have had multiple dates and a list of past boyfriends. Yet, for me, that's not a part of my story. I think there are a couple of reasons as to why that is the case.

 First, I grew up having the mindset of not needing a boyfriend or a date. I watched my friends go in and out of relationships, constantly changing their minds about certain guys or girls and what they thought of them. I saw them get hurt and witnessed healthy friendships become broken. Yet I saw some good relationships as well- two people happy and enjoying life together. But for me, I decided that I didn't want to ruin the friendships that I had with the guys in my life. Yes, I had crushes and interests, but I didn't want to need a relationship with a guy just because it was the thing to do. All throughout junior high and high school I had some great friendships with lots of guys, and it was a relief to know that I didn't feel the pressure to date them or make into something more.

 Second, I felt like I was never really ready to commit to a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. I can remember a couple of guys reaching out and asking me about dating, but I always said, "No." It's not that they were bad guys or anything like that; I just didn't feel inclined to be dating at those times. Plus there were the feelings of not being ready AND feeling intimidated by the unknown; it's a little scary if you think about it. I possess little to no experience in the realm of relationships other than what I have observed from those around me.

 Ultimately, I would love to be in a relationship with a wonderful man who loves and serves the Lord. I would love to be married and have kids of my own someday. I have been told many times by many people that I would make a good wife and mother. But at the moment that isn't who I am. God has placed me where I am in life for His good plan and purpose. God has called me to living the life of a woman unattached to anyone else so that I can be attached to Him. Yes, there are days when the reality of singleness is hard to deal with, and I feel like I'm missing out on married life. However, I am constantly reminded of how much of a blessing it is, and that I need to be faithful where God has me right now.

 How has your singleness been a blessing in your life?
  Countless ways! I really could have a long list of how being single has been a blessing, but I think there is one word that I can summarize most of it- service. I have been able to serve in ways that I probably would not have been able to if I was married. I've traveled out of the country three times (two of which were missions trips), I dog-sit and babysit for friends and families on occasion, and I can be as involved in church ministries as I want. My schedule is flexible and open, which means that I am available for things like last minute changes and spontaneous outings. If I had a husband and kids to take care of, I doubt I would be able to do all of that and more since they would be my priority instead of all these other things. Being able to serve is one of my greatest passions, whether it be a huge project or a mundane task. Being single has made the ability to serve a broad path to pursue. 

 What has been the hardest part of being single?
  I think the hardest part about being single is seeing other people in good relationships and marriages. I truly am happy and excited for them, yet I long for that, too. It's also difficult when people I know ask me, "So, is there a guy?" I know they care about me and that they have good intentions behind their prodding, but it often reminds me of the fact that I don't have a man in my life. It can be a quick and easy way to turn my heart toward idolizing marriage, turning my focus toward something that is not God's plan for me right now.

 Has there been a specific book (or maybe several books) that have helped you the most through your journey as a single woman?
  The most recent book I have started reading is "The Meaning of Marriage" by Tim Keller and his wife, Kathy. While the book itself is good as far as thinking about marriage, chapter seven is specifically directed toward singleness and what that looks like. Honestly, that one chapter has some of the best wisdom and thoughts about being single that I have ever read or heard. It has impacted my perspective on being single. If you are single and want to read something that encourages you in your singleness, read chapter seven in "The Meaning of Marriage". 

If you could go back in time, what words of advice or encouragement about singleness would you share with your younger self?
  What you have or don't have doesn't determine your worth. Even though you're not in a relationship, it doesn't mean that people don't like you or care about you. I know that deep down inside you feel lonely. But you're really not alone. You have so many people in your life who know you and love you for who you are, and you have a God who has unconditional love for YOU. Your worth and value and significance are found in Him.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Should You Pray for Your Future Husband?

Though many aspects of the Christian life are black and white, either right or wrong, I think this is an area that is more gray. I have read blog posts where people were convinced it was wrong to pray for your future husband. I have read many more articles encouraging women to pray everyday for their future husbands, sometimes even using Bible verses out of context to claim that if we ask God for a husband He will give us the desire of our hearts. 

 I could write several blog posts about how ludicrous and un-biblical that is, but I will save that for the future. Right now I want to focus on the question, "Should we pray for our future husbands?"

 Honestly, I believe the answer depends on each woman. 

 I want to share with you two different seasons of my life in college to hopefully give some examples.

Scenario #1
   I honestly expected to have a boyfriend by my sophomore year. I was living on a campus with a bunch of Christian guys my age, so I thought for sure it was bound to happen, especially by my second year of college. But it didn't.  Instead, my roommate was planning her wedding, another good friend just started dating a guy, and everyone around me seemed to also be pairing up. And I was really struggling.

 But God used that struggle to challenge this idea I had of marriage. I thought I was going to get married someday just because I wanted to, because I thought I was entitled to have what I wanted. Clearly, that was wrong.

 Within that struggle, I recognized the fact that we can ask God for what we want. In the past I had prayed for a husband someday. But I also recognized that at least right now, my desire for a husband was a huge struggle and an idol in my life. I realized that I needed to focus on what God had given me and not what I felt like God should give me. Praying for my future husband at that time would have made my thoughts go places they shouldn't. So I didn't.

Scenario #2
  Both my junior and senior years of college, I liked this one guy. There were times when I was with him that it honestly seemed like to me and a few of my friends that he liked me too. And other times, he seemed to be hard core ignoring me. I couldn't figure him out.

 During that time I had also begun to pray for my future husband. I prayed that he existed. I prayed that God would mature him and grow him in love for Christ and in patience and love and peace and self control. I used a prayer guide, and I wrote out my prayers in my journal. As I wrote these prayers, it helped me to picture my future husband separately from this guy I liked. My future husband was exactly that: future. He was not in my life right now because I was not married.  This guy that I currently liked could maybe turn out to be my future husband, but right now he certainly wasn't. 

 Praying for my future husband during that season of my life forced me to not think of this guy that I liked as my potential future husband. It helped to put my emotions through a filter. Strangely enough, through prayer, observations of him, and I imagine my prayers for my future husband, the Lord showed me that though this guy was great in many ways, he probably wasn't the guy I should marry. There were qualities I wanted my future husband to have that he did not possess. 

 At different times in my life, I have found it helpful and unhelpful to pray for my future husband. I really believe it is something everyone needs to decide for themselves. Ultimately, it is more a question about your heart and what your attitude is when you pray or don't pray for your future husband. 

 It can be helpful to ask yourself questions to gauge whether or not you should be praying for your future husband, questions like...

 When you pray, are assuming this is something God should and will automatically give to you?

 When you don't pray, are you assuming this is something God will never give you?

 After you pray or don't pray for your future husband, how do you feel? Do you feel committed to the qualities your husband needs to have someday? Does it make you dwell too much on something that God has not given to you right now?

 Are you also praying that God will be growing you and molding you to be a wonderful wife someday?

What are your thoughts on praying for your future husband? Is it something you do or don't do? I would love to hear your stories!